As a trainee or novice ESL teacher you will probably be quite excited when you get your first overseas teaching post, but before you rush off – don’t forget to make sure that you have packed your suitcase properly. Here are a few tips about what you should consider taking with you.
First and foremost, make sure that you have the following important documents with you: contact details (for your family, friends, lawyer, etc.), travel tickets, luggage tags, money (including foreign currency), passport, (international) driving licence, traveller’s cheques, credit/debit card(s), and ATM card(s), medical insurance card or the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
It would also be a good idea if you were to make photocopies of all the above documents: if you should lose or have any of them stolen, the photocopies would greatly simplify any ensuing red tape. The novice ESL teacher is strongly advised to do this.
If you are taking any medication, make sure that you have a prescription for your medication. Those ESL teachers who wear glasses or contact lenses should take a spare pair with them as well as a lens prescription. If you have had any vaccinations, make sure you have documentary proof that you have been vaccinated.
Having packed all these important items, you should now start thinking about what things you would like to take with you so that you can make your stay abroad more comfortable. Here are some suggestions: select clothing which will be appropriate both for teaching and for day-to-day living: to this end, you should also take the climate into consideration – try to avoid synthetic materials if you are going to a hot country. You may also need to take a formal set of clothing, i.e. a suit or a suit dress if you are a female ESL teacher: check with the ESL school if this is a requirement. Don’t over pack your suitcase: you may be able to buy extra clothes (and other things) quite cheaply in some overseas destinations; however, you should make sure that you have two good pairs of shoes. A money belt is something that you should definitely consider purchasing: you can keep money and important documents in it – and it’s much safer than a purse or a wallet; it’s also almost impossible to lose from round your waist.
Some of the following items might also be worth packing: mobile phone, laptop, iPod, mp3 player, camera, battery chargers, and a few adapter plugs.
Don’t exceed the carrier’s weight and size regulations for luggage, and don’t leave packing to the last night: make a list of your items, and as you place each item in your suitcase – check it off.